The Next Rungs On Milton’s Ladder Of Success

With Milton, the hard stuff is easy; the easy stuff is hard,

Dressage test? No problem. Showgrounds? Trailers? Other horses? Not so much.

Cross-Country. Solid fences? Jumping? Sure. Being ALL ALONE way, way out in the BIG, WIDE WORLD? Not so much.

Show Practice
I had thought to take a break until we are ready to canter in public. How many walk-trot Intro tests can one person do? Looks like I shall find out.

Hard things being easy, Milton is great with his own trailer. Loads well. Ships well. Stands tied next to it.

Easy things being hard, he has come-aparts watching trailers arrive at showgrounds. His trailer-related meltdowns are worse at ASB shows. The geometry at the local saddle seat barns is such that a handful of large trailers are wedged into a small space. Does he not like the big trailers? Not like being packed in? Who knows. He does better at Full Circle Horse Park , where the trailers are smaller, mostly two-horse with the occasional four-horse stock, and the parking is spread out over a wider space. Last weekend, he only startled once at a horse unloading nearby.

He gets stellar marks for his work in the ring [Show Report]. The rest of it is still a work in progress. Minus, we had to break out the nose chain to get him to pay attention when we arrived. Plus, he warmed-up beautifully in the ground driving. He both settled with it and worked well. Minus, mounted warm-up was still edgy.

Therefore, Milton and I will be going to all the walk-trot dressage and non-compete hunter/jumper shows we can reach. When we can canter, we’ll move up to endless iterations of Training Level Test 1. When we can jump 2′, we’ll add Hopeful Hunter.

I would rather do exciting things. Apparently simply being at a showgrounds is exciting for Milton.

Rider Nerves
While Milton is getting over his show nerves, I need to get over my show nerves, which are not helped by my horse having show nerves. Being nervous the day before is bad enough. Being nervous the entire week before a simple walk-trot test at a small, local schooling show is a ridiculous way to live one’s life.

While we are on the subject of the rider improvement, a few pointers gleaned from the photos. Lose the trainer’s hunch. Get a hairnet. I must remember that at non-ASB competitions I don’t have Reagan to turn me out beautifully. If I insist on hunching, don’t wear a loud, black& white stripped sweater that underscores my bad posture. For that matter, I am no longer allowed to wear black with a gray horse.

Canter
On the long-lines, Milton has canters quietly on voice commands. Under saddle, he canters well, once we get it. The transitions, not so much. OTOH, that is a hard thing being hard.

On the Thurs before the show, we practiced at Stepping Stone Farm. I didn’t ask well. When I don’t ask well, he gets confused. When he gets confused, he gets upset. When he gets upset, he hops. It was a little hop, nothing like the grand extravagance of last month, but it didn’t help my mental state at the show.

I was hoping to wait to show again until we could canter well. I think horse and rider will be both happier with the canter as tool for motivation and learning. This is not unusual for Thoroughbreds. Canter is their gait. With Previous Horse, also an OTTB, we warmed-up at canter, and I was best able to explain new things to him at a canter.

Riding Outside
Practice at home. Practice at SSF. Practice at FHF. Practice at FCHP.

Then practice at show when leaving the other horses. Maybe an XC school with other horses for company, even if all we do is watch the others.

And finally, before all of this …

Saddle
The time has come. We had to widen the Wintec [New Equipment] for Rodney. That means it no longer fits Milton. Really we’ve been lucky that one saddle fit two horses for this long. I have been dreading this for years [Saddle Shopping written in 2016]. Add in two horses with sensitive backs who are no shy about expressing their displeasure.

Driving
Have cart. Ready to start back at square one to recapitulate the process. Milton popped an abscess. It looks like a heel grab but on the back foot. Sigh.

He has recently lunged in his harness. He accepted it so well that I have a good feeling about driving at home (for driving, SSF is home). I am less sanguine about going anywhere else/showing.

All of the above will be good schooling for driving – dressage test, show exposure, riding in the open. The only element not relevant to driving it is the actual air-time over the jumps.

In Sum
Milton needs a saddle.
We need to get our shit together.
I need to get my shit together.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Categories: Horses

2 replies »

  1. I was very lucky that both my saddle and bridle fit both my horses, despite the difference in their size and shape. It’s an AP saddle, and for the level at which I was riding it worked fine for everything.I still have my old saddle; I’m the 4h person I know of to own it, so it must be approaching the mark of actual antique by now….

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